“You can get into vegetable or meat, but because of the land scarcity issue, and because we’re surrounded by the sea, I strongly felt fishery was the best business to get into.
Mr Cheng focuses on groupers – a fish he says offers the best returns – importing them as babies from Indonesia and Malaysia for just over a dollar each.
He then grows them for 12 to 18 months before selling them for $15 per kg – about the weight of one fish”.
“The growth rate of groupers is slower than the rest, which means you have to invest a lot more, so most farmers choose not to grow them,” he says.
“The fish is high in demand, but there is less supply, so the prices will always be high. In 2008, it reached almost $20 per kilogram.
“I reckon the price will go higher because as Asians, as Chinese, we always believe that grouper is a lucky fish.”
Singapore currently produces less than 5% of the food it consumes.
… the government wants to encourage entrepreneurs … to venture into farming so that the country can be more self-sufficient.
Goals set out by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore include raising local production of fish to meet 15% of domestic demand from the current 4%.
Eggs and leafy vegetables are among other foods on its target list for production growth.
To meet these goals, the government launched a $3.5m Food Fund initiative in December, aimed “at strengthening our strategies of food diversification and local farming to ensure a resilient supply for food for Singapore”.